JAMMU AND KASHMIR
Sonamarg (Urdu pronunciation: [soːnaːmərɡ]) or Sonmarg (Urdu pronunciation: [soːnmərg]), known as Sonamarag (Kashmiri pronunciation: [sɔnɨmarɨɡ] ;lit. 'meadow of gold') in Kashmiri, is a hill station located in the Ganderbal District of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is located about 80 kilometres (50 mi) northeast of the capital city, Srinagar.
Sonamarg had historical significance as a gateway on the ancient Silk Road, connecting Jammu and Kashmir with Tibet. Today, the hill station is a popular tourist destination amongst fishers and hikers, and following the Kargil War with neighbouring Pakistan in 1999, serves as a strategically important point for the Indian Army.
The hill station is situated in the Kashmir Valley, at an altitude of 2,730 metres (8,960 ft) and is close to some of the valley's tallest peaks, alongside the Machoi Glacier, Sirbal Peak, Kolahoi Peak, Amarnath Peak and Machoi Peak. Combined with the alpine meadows that bloom in the summer as well as rivers and lakes stocked with fish, Sonamarg is a notable tourist destination in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sonamarg gives rise to the 'Three Sisters'—a group of rivers (the Lidder, Sind and Neelum) that run parallel to each other and serve as tributaries for the major Jhelum River that runs through the Kashmir Valley and into Pakistan.
Sonamarg provides trekking routes leading to Vishansar Lake, Krishansar Lake, Gangabal Lake and Gadsar Lake in the Himalayas, which are stocked with snowtrout and brown trout. The Sind River meanders here and abounds with trout and mahseer. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier, a major attraction during the summer months. The Yatra to the nearby Amarnath Temple begins in Sonamarg.
Baltal, 15km east of Sonamarg, is a valley that lies at the foot of the Zoji La pass. Trekkers can also reach the city of Leh - known as "the rooftop of the world" - by crossing over the Zoji La.
The Jammu and Kashmir tourism department organizes river rafting tournaments at Sonamarg throughout the year, which has recently seen the participation of teams from abroad.